5 Side Gigs That’ll Let You Get Paid to Help People or Animals

Professional snuggler Samantha Varnerin poses in her bedroom in Medford, Mass.
Professional snuggler Samantha Varnerin poses in her bedroom in Medford, Mass., on Sept. 24, 2016. Erik Jacobs for The Penny Hoarder

If nurturing comes naturally to you, there are ways to turn that instinct into extra money.

Side gigs aren’t limited to doing other people’s grocery shopping or selling stuff online. There’s a slew of more personal caregiver jobs for anyone who likes to take care of people and animals.

Here’s a quick rundown:

Pet Sitting

Pet sitter Diana Sanchez pets Allie, a whippet dog, during a 30-minute care visit
Pet sitter Diana Sanchez pets Allie, a whippet dog, during a 30-minute care visit in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 5, 2019. Sanchez works for Tampa Pet Sitters. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Pet sitters provide owners peace of mind by watching over their animals while the clients are away. For midday walks or in-home visits, a sitter will come to the client’s house to feed and let the pets out. During in-home overnight visits, a sitter will stay at the client’s house to feed, walk, administer medication, play with and watch over the pets all night.

If you use a pet-sitting app like Rover or Wag, you’ll create an online sitter profile where you’ll answer questions about your experience and availability. You may also need to pass a phone and in-person interview.

Once approved, dog owners will reach out to you, and you choose which gigs you want. Extra belly rubs encouraged.

Babysitting

The standard first job for preteens everywhere is now a thriving industry with plenty of apps to connect you to potential clients. For starters, check out Care.com and Sittercity to create a free membership.

And babysitting is no longer just the purview of the 10th grader down the block. Adults who offer their services can command a higher rate, along with those who are willing to watch kids in their own home or provide extras like homework help or carpooling.

Elder Care

We love this app that aims to connect two of the loneliest groups: seniors and college kids.

The Papa App, which is currently operating in cities across six states, provides “grandkids on demand”: college students looking for extra money who help seniors with grocery shopping, chores, tech help and genuine companionship.

Back Scratcher

Toni George, owner of Scratcher Girls, scratches client Daria Ortiz in Hollywood, Fla.
Toni George, owner of Scratcher Girls, scratches client Daria Ortiz in Hollywood, Fla., on Nov. 8, 2018. Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

True story: this Miami woman cultivated a legitimate business from a side hustle scratching other people’s backs.

If that sounds a little weird, stop and think for a moment how good it feels to get a thorough back-scratch. See? So maybe it’s not so surprising that people are paying $50 for a half hour of that feeling.

The lesson here? Well, for one thing, there’s always a market for services that meet our basic human needs.

Which leads us to …

Professional Cuddling

This is just what it sounds like: spooning, holding hands and snuggling with strangers. Professional cuddling is a real thing, and this woman charges $60 an hour for it.

You must like people and approach the work free of judgment. Otherwise, you’ve already got the tools to start handing out hugs.

Molly Moorhead is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder.